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HARLEY & THE DAVIDSONS Q&A w/ Michiel Huisman, Robert Aramayo, Bug Hall, Gabe Luna + Episode Guide

Maj Canton - September 5, 2016





If you like men, machines and the American Dream...then HARLEY AND THE DAVIDSONS doesn’t disappoint. Discovery Channel's three-part, six-hour miniseries admirably captures the struggles and excitement in the pursuit of building one the most recognizable brands in the world. Based on a true story, HARLEY AND THE DAVIDSONS charts the birth of this iconic bike during a time of great social and technological change beginning at the turn of the 20th century. Walter, Arthur and Bill risked their entire fortune and livelihood to launch the budding enterprise. For Walter Davidson, the venture was a chance to escape from the confines of society -- to ignore the rules and build a bike that could go anywhere and ride hard. For Arthur Davidson, it was an opportunity to finally make good on his name. And for Bill Harley, the bike gave him hope to break free from his overbearing parents and apply his talent as an engineer. Built in a shed out of Milwaukee, these motorcycles were able to survive nearly every condition imaginable. Walter’s ferocious ambition propelled him to become a top motorcycle racer while competing in the deadly motordrome competitions sweeping the nation; his daredevil exploits put Harley-Davidson on the map. Fueled by ingenuity, innovation and design, the founders of Harley-Davidson faced off against their much bigger rivals. Walter, Arthur and Bill cemented Harley-Davidson’s reputation as a builder of bikes that goes anywhere, could ride hard and ignored all the rules. It’s a legacy that has endured over 100 years -- and at the heart of the brand and its loyal riders.



The series is led by an all-star cast including Michiel Huisman as Walter Davidson, Robert Aramayo as William (Bill) Harley, Bug Hall as Arthur Davidson and Gabe Luna as Eddie Hasha “Texas Cyclone.” Also starring Stephen Rider, Jessica Camacho, Daniel Coonan, Annie Read, Wilson Bethel, Dougray Scott, Alex Shaffer, Essa O’Shea and Sean Scully.

Discovery Channel premieres HARLEY AND THE DAVIDSONS on Monday, September 5, 2016 at 9pm ET/PT, with the final two episodes airing on Tuesday, September 6 and Wednesday, September 7 at 9pm each night.

This past August at the Television Critics Association (TCA) Summer Press Tour, Discovery Channel presented a HARLEY AND THE DAVIDSONS press panel that included stars Bug Hall, Robert Aramayo, Michiel Huisman and Gabe Luna. Here are a few highlights (edited for clarity and readability) from that panel.




Michiel Huisman as Walter Davidson

Question: What was it like ride the bikes that were fabricated to replicate the original period motorcycles?

Michiel Huisman: I was one of the guys that were lucky enough to ride these bikes. It was really like a dream to ride Harley-Davidsons or replicas of bikes that either don’t exist anymore or they’re behind glass at the Harley-­Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. They were great fun to ride and very challenging to ride. The old ones were even harder. You basically had to be half a mechanic yourself. Now, I’m not a mechanic, so I had four guys following me all the time.

Gabe Luna: The fact that they built using reference photographs and some of the math given to them by the company was a truly extraordinary feat. They're steel bikes, steel frames, not shocks, leather belt drives. I mean, the whole shoot was setting out to do impossible things and then the movie gods shining on us and actually accomplishing those things. But it wasn’t without hard work and great engineering by all of our engineers. And as we got on them, all of us eventually got them started in a traditional fashion, just, like, pedaling and then popping the intake, and the thing started up. We were all very proud of that.

Question: Did you know how to ride before taking on this role, and could you tell us about the foibles of learning how to ride?

Michiel Huisman: I knew how to ride a bike. I rode a motorcycle all throughout my 20s, and I thought I would never get in a car. Eventually my wife and I had a child, and I got in a car.

Bug Hall: I spent most of my late teens and early 20s going back and forth across America on motorcycles.

Gabe Luna: I was riding dirt bikes as a teenager. It had been a long time since I had been on a bike, but I did two months of riding here in L.A. at Lucky Wheels Garage. But everything we knew about the modern bike you threw out the window when you jump on something that was built in 1903 that had a whole different design. The clutch isn’t really a clutch. It’s just a tightening of a leather belt around your back wheel so that you can be motorized forward. But we had three weeks of training, and we were all thankful to our stunt riders. I want to make sure everyone knows that we rode some but they rode like animals and made sacrifices for us. And I love them all for that.


Question: What was it about these characters that really stood out to you?

Michiel Huisman: Well, first of all, for the three of us, we portray the three founders. I think what stood out to me is how individual they were and how much they complemented each other. I don’t think the company could have become what it became without any one of them, they really needed each other.

Bug Hall: It’s a really great example of how three very different minds can come together on something. And, really their love for each other was more unifying, I think, even more than the machine that they made. But just their differences is what really molded and sculpted this amazing thing. What made that also really awesome too is that a lot of times when you go into a project, you’re looking at your character-- what is this guy? Who is he at his core? And these guys, they were such individuals, and yet so much of who they were depended on the other character on just such a fundamental level.

Robert Aramayo: I certainly think that one of the things that really drew me, and to my character in particular was there was an enormous level of creativity and, I believe, artistry involved in the creation of this machine. But I would agree with these two. It’s the love between all three characters and what is produced from that love that really attracted me to this.

Gabe Luna: I read the script and there’s this character called the "Texas Cyclone” and I was down with that. Not only was he of Mexican/Scottish descent, but also he was born in Waco, Texas, which is about an hour and a half from my hometown. And all of those ideas were very appealing and then just reading the relationship that we built. This brotherhood that develops into a rivalry between Walter Davidson and Eddie is a really beautiful thing. And it’s just them pushing each other, finding the extent of what the bike can do, finding out their own human capabilities, and then trying to smash through whatever wall that is and find what’s on the other side of that. So it was a really beautiful story I was really happy to tell.

Episode Guide

Robert Aramayo

Episode 1: Monday, September 5 from 9-11pm ET/PT

Amazing Machine: Bill Harley and brothers Walter and Arthur Davidson found the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Company. But competition is fierce, and Walter puts his life at risk in deadly races to beat industry powerhouse, Indian Motorcycles.

Bug Hall

Episode 2: Tuesday, September 6 from 9-11pm ET/PT

Race to the Top: Harley-Davidson must rejoin the racing community if the business is to survive. Distracted by their race to the top, the founders leave themselves vulnerable to a devastating and unforeseen threat to the survival of their company.

Gabe Luna

Episode 3: Wednesday, September 7 from 9-11pm ET/PT

Legacy: The Great Depression ravages America and cripples the motorcycle industry. With their company on the brink of ruin, Walter, Arthur, and Bill flout conventional wisdom by embarking on their most ambitious and expensive design yet.